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My job is trying to make me fat. Recently, they have tried to change this tide by implementing healthy choices and challenges into company life, which is fine. Except companies we work with still bring us “bad” foods like Panera Bread cookies and coffee cakes and assorted doughnuts…and a million other things. I have no problem with this, as I haven’t agreed to never eat delicious PB cookies (which have to be the softest, sweetest, most wonderful cookies EVER!), and I know how to limit myself.

The other day, a coworker of mine marvelled at my “discipline” when I went into the breakroom, saw doughnuts, investigated the contents, and left without one. You would have thought I’d turned wine into water or walked on water (or walked on wine…that would be impressive, too). Another coworker was asking me about green tea. I told her (again) that I don’t drink anything with caffeine in it, including green tea, as I am prone to migraines and caffeine is one of the triggers. I found when I eliminated caffeine, I had significantly less migraines. My coworker said she admired me because “I’m so disciplined and good” as she went to brew her green tea.

I find these two examples of my “discipline” funny. In the first instance, I just didn’t see a doughnut I liked. In the second, I can have head splitting migraines or I can enjoy the boost and crash of caffeine. That’s not a hard choice for someone who has suffered migraines (and the 3pm crash).

If I don’t want it or it doesn’t bother me to do it, there is no discipline in my actions. If I really want shrimp pasta alfredo, but I get a healthy salad–that’s discipline. If I get up early and I’m not a morning person, if I go to the gym everyday and I’m sore and I don’t want to go and exercising never appealed to me–that’s discipline. Deciding to abstain from sex because of religious conviction, yet having normal hormones and desires takes discipline. When you really want to but you don’t because you want something else more, you are exercising discipline.

The reason it’s hard to be disciplined in today’s world is because we live in a world where instant gratification rules the day. Immediate wants override my long term wants and even my needs.  Why wait months and work for something I can have immediately? Why exercise and eat right for months when I can have all the fat sucked out of me today? Is it any wonder that in a society where we can have almost anything we want (for a price), someone would marvel when we choose not to take what’s so freely given, even if we don’t really want it?

There are many areas in my life in which I need to be more disciplined, but I am thankful for the areas in my life that I am disciplined in. I am thankful that I realize what it means to be disciplined, how to embrace delayed gratification, and how to avoid taking things just because they are there for the taking.

I find what I lack more than discipline sometimes is patience. I know that the things I want will come to pass in good time if I stay disciplined, but why does it have to take so long? Couldn’t God just let me have it now? For example, I have been in a relationship 4 years. Couldn’t God have allowed me to get married two years ago? I mean, granted, I wasn’t as mature and we weren’t communicating as effectively, but couldn’t we have worked on that after we got married? And the money situation wasn’t looking to great, but we could have been farther along together, right? I mean, couldn’t You just let me take that next step and move on with life? I can figure out the rest later.

Except: many marriages break up because of financial issues. Except: I needed to learn how to communicate effectively and share my feelings and opinions on things, so that I wouldn’t get lost in a relationship and be one of those women who have an “I’m not happy” midlife crisis where they just walk off one day and never return (then they write a book about it and get a bunch of “you go, girl”s when someone should have told them how to address issues like an adult before  they got married). Except: I really need to master the step of life I’m on before I go moving up a level to a harder challenge.

In the end, discipline isn’t about doing or not doing, it’s about faith. It’s about believing that the sacrifices we make mean something and will make our lives and our selves better in the long run. It’s about letting things of the past go, and keeping focused on the now instead of impatiently awaiting the future. It’s about not having any idea where God is going with this, but following anyway.

Do you have discipline?